by Melinda Gallo

As I was leaving the hair salon, with all my bottles of lavendar oil, herbal tea, shampoo, and conditioner, the girl at the front desk decided to also put some make-up on me as a special treat. She probably put on more than I would normally feel comfortable with. I had pink plastic, shiny lips the kind that my husband detests. The ones that look like you could just take it all off in one piece. All I could think of was I'm sure I have some Kleenex in my purse to wipe this off before I get home. Dave would probably freak out if he saw me.

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Sunday is the worst day to ever channel hop in Italy. Luckily, we have satellite TV, but for old time's sake, I thought I'd take a look at what mostly everyone else watches. Well, no one admits to watching these TV shows (none of my friends would ever say that they even turn on the TV on a Sunday afternoon), so I wonder who really does watch these variety shows that last hours and hours.

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The Post Office in Italy is more than just a place where you send and pick up packages. It's also a bank and a place where you can pay all of your bills, like those for water, electricity, phone, gas, and even Satellite TV.

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Today was not a day we wanted to be outside. It was a little cloudy and windy and the temperature was around 0°C. I met Dave on Ponte Vecchio this afternoon and we went looking for a restaurant to have lunch. It was so cold that when we saw a small scarf vendor, we decided to buy ourselves scarves. There were two American girls looking at all the scarves, picking through them one by one and asking the price of each one.

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My friend Marta and I went walking around town today, but it was absolutely freezing outside. I took her to my favorite chocolate place where they serve little hot chocolates. I ordered mine with peperoncino as usual. It's spicy, but so good. Who would've thought that a little red pepper could be so good with chocolate. Marta tried it and loved it too! It's nice when I'm able to share something I love with someone and they like it too.

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I'm not one to go for a doctor’s visit much since I normally just go the homeopathic route. But, I actually heard about a gynecologist who was also a homeopathic doctor. Back in the US, it's quite rare. Normally, a doctor is a doctor and a homeopathic doctor is a homeopathic doctor. They seem to not mix as well back home.

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Some people think my accent is a little French and others don't think so. I can't really tell that much; however, I do know that once in awhile I'll say a word with a French twang. Instead of saying, "documentazione" where the "men" is pronounced the same as in English, I'll say "mawn" (rhyming with lawn). And thus, my French accent shines through. I'm not French, but I speak it fluently, lived in Paris for 6 years and majored in French Literature in college.

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Many people in Florence took last week off for La Befana, which was January 6th. A lot of my friends were out of town until this last weekend. Even in the streets, you can see the difference: the buses are packed, the grocery stores busy, and just more people on the street walking around.

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I joined the gym yesterday and decided to start going today. It felt so wonderful to be back. It wasn't that busy, which is what I expected, since people won't start coming back to the gym until Monday.

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I know better and yet I still make the mistake. I head out of the house after lunch to go to a store and it's closed. I look at the plastic sign with four clocks with the minute and hour signs to see when the store opens and closes in the morning, then opens again and closes again in the evening.

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I don't remember previous New Years in Italy. Only one in Paris on the Champs-Elysées where some drunk French guy ran up to me and wanted to kiss me on the lips and we ended up on the pavement with my elbow in his face and his arm around my waist.

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